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Empathy, value and empowering your frontline

Thoughts from a global conversation

Following the success of our first digital conversation last month for Earth Day 2020, we decided to make it a regular fixture in the calendar and hosted part two. Same format, seven reps from our communities around the world.


Here's a few of the themes and trends I picked up from listening in:

A shift in mood

Following the success of our first Global Conversation last month for Earth Day 2020, we decided to again host a conversation around the world with a host of inspiring leaders from our seven global communities. They discussed the challenges and opportunities in their markets in moods that ranged from optimistic to grateful to excited. Quite a shift, compared to the mood of the industry a few months ago.

Reassessing value

Through 2020, the world has been fundamentally disrupted with most businesses going through hardship, so it was inspiring to hear a collection of industry leaders speak with such positivity and optimism about what can and will be achieved by their organisations. The COVID situation has provided brands a chance to reassess and look at how they truly deliver value for their customers and how they provide a positive angle to society… it seems, perhaps, that the glass is now half full.

Empathy and flexibility

Could empathy be the buzzword of 2020? Whether it's praising the leadership of Jacinda Arden, showing more compassion for the people we interact with (social or work), or accepting that people make mistakes and we’re all fallible - this current situation has taught us to be more empathetic as leaders, which is only good for business, mental health and the planet.

One of the panellists shared an example of a high-end fashion brand who switched their manufacturing to make PPE (protective equipment) for hospitals. Another brand has changed their business model to twice-a-year seasonal lines to become more sustainable; in light of everything going on.

Empowering your frontline

A key theme that emerged was the empowerment of frontline workers - with their insight being respected now more than ever. There was an understanding that the need to be more agile has never been more important. This has led to the empowerment of call centre and frontline retail workers. They've provided insight into customer challenges and opportunities that leaders can now use to make key decisions.

Along with flattening of hierarchical structures due to furloughs and redundancies, it means that team members should feel more empowered than ever to make a difference.

Final thoughts

Our outgoing Chief Executive, Gemma Greaves, ended by asking, ‘What’s the one piece of advice you would give to other marketers now?’ Our panel said: Be open to big new scary ideas, be conscientious and show empathy with everyone you meet, listen more than you ever have before, don’t let perfect get in the way of possible and let’s not forget when we come together and inspire each other we really can achieve anything.


This month’s panellists were:
Craig Inglis, (London) Chairman, The Marketing Society (former Customer Director, John Lewis)
Juhie Gorwara, (India) Head of Corporate Marketing, Philips
Adriana Rizzo, (New York) VP Global Marketing, Discovery
Mike Fairburn, (Dubai) GM, Sony Music Entertainment
Xiaowei Liu, (Singapore) VP External Relations, APAC, Shell